OPINION | Tulane students must be responsible as NOLA enters Stage 3

Domenic Mesa, Contributing Writer

Tulane students’ behavior can make or break New Orleans’ transition to Stage 3.

New Orleans has the opportunity to be a hotbed for COVID-19. Decisions made by outsiders have the likelihood of affecting the local population far more than one would expect. As a major tourist destination, it is no surprise that during Labor Day weekend, the French Quarter was plagued with people not adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. The thought of people blatantly disregarding mandates by the state and local government is appalling. 

Due to this Labor Day incident, the New Orleans government chose not to continue to Phase 3 of the reopening process, unlike the rest of Louisiana. The slower transition into reopening allowed the New Orleans government to assess the data concerning COVID-19 cases. 

“The primary reason for us staying in Phase 2 and not moving with any further easement of restrictions is to get our kids back into the classroom, have the time that will allow us to look at the data, look at the trends and therefore determine the impact, for the positive or negative,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said during a Sept. 10 press conference.

New Orleans only began easing COVID-19 restrictions Oct. 3. Rather than a complete reopening of the local economy, city officials decided in favor of a multistage approach to reopening the economy.

Although many students at Tulane University interpret the loosening of restrictions as a result of relatively low rates of infection, the gravity of New Orleans’ condition constitutes much more serious decision making when deciding to go out and to where.

The party culture at Tulane can easily have adverse effects on the community outside of Tulane’s campus. Wearing masks at a fraternity party on Broadway Street or at local bars is not going to happen. Regardless of what anyone tells you, there will be no social distancing and no following of public health protocols. Why?

Some students simply do not care. Whether it is students who view enforcing COVID-19 guidelines as a violation of their rights or those who are simply reckless, there is an obvious lack of effort by some students to contain the spread of the virus. 

In reality, it is not very difficult to adhere to Tulane’s guidelines concerning COVID-19. Wearing masks does not have any adverse effects on your ability to breathe nor do masks deteriorate the overall quality of your breathing. COVID-19 is airborne, so maintaining a six-foot distance goes hand in hand with preventing infection. 

Ultimately, Tulane is not asking much from its students. Given the university’s proximity to the greater New Orleans community, it goes without saying that students from Tulane have the responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the area and the recommencement of government restrictions.

Following the clearly outlined precautions when visiting locales is conducive to thwarting the spread of COVID-19. That being said, understanding the risk of going to bars and restaurants is also imperative. When frequenting these establishments, the likelihood for transmission increases greatly. After coming in contact with others in a shared indoor environment, students can easily carry the virus back to campus or pass it on to members of the local community.

If you have to go to a bar with your friends, do so with the utmost regard for human life in New Orleans. If you want to walk around the city, wear a mask and social distance. Wearing a mask and social distancing is not political, it is both scientifically proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and, above all else, the right thing to do. 

The welfare of those in New Orleans should not be undermined by an ignorant, self-serving view of liberty nor should it be risked out of blatant displays of privilege.